The evolution of patent information

13 November 2017

Following the latest EPO Patent Information Conference that was held in Sofia last week, I want to highlight today how the EPO’s patent information services are evolving. The EPO has always been held in high regard in this field and is one of the leading providers of patent information. But new technologies, greater cooperation with our partners and rising volumes of data all mean that we’ve been able to implement a series of improvements to our services over the last year.

Regardless of those enhancements, I should underline first that the rationale for providing patent information never changes. Time and time again, we’ve seen how more and more people are learning about the benefits that can be derived from such information. Whether it’s individual innovators, businesses, or research centres. For example, businesses rely on IP statistics for revealing the latest trends in technology and industry analysts examine patterns to indicate future business scenarios. Such benefits, coupled with increasing volumes of patent information and data, act as strong drivers for the EPO to continually deliver better services to our users.

Firstly, we’re making more data available and the volume of patent information that we’re offering to users is more extensive than ever. Continuous acquisition means that the EPO’s bibliographic collection currently holds more than 100 million documents compiled from around 90 patent issuing authorities. Cooperation with international partners has played a major part in providing this information in an accessible form. For example, new countries, such as Bulgaria, joined the Federated Register earlier this year. 23 countries are now on board so the system can now collect current patent information from across Europe and display it in an easily-accessible table for users. Similarly, the Global Dossier has been expanded recently to include WIPO and Canadian data. Around 40 0000 user every month are now able to obtain file wrapper information as a result of this project.

Secondly, the EPO is making the data more affordable to our users. By working with intermediaries and other providers, we’ve been able to reassess this year the way in which we’re charging for data. I’m pleased to say that the EPO has recently revised its pricing structure for raw data, making it more affordable to a wider range of customers. Similarly, from 1 January, we’ll be offering different data packages for PATSTAT online, allowing users to benefit from reduced fees. For those that use Espacenet, this service is of course free and remains the patent search tool of choice, having recently hit as many as 800,000 users per month.

Thirdly, rising prior art across the world has also demanded that we pay more attention to breaking down language barriers, particularly with regard to Asian languages. In 2017 the very latest translation technology was therefore deployed for Patent Translate, our free translation tool for patent documents in 32 languages. Over the last few months, neural machine translation has been implemented and is now consistently delivering more accurate translations and achieving levels of quality that were previously unattainable.

These kinds of improvements are ongoing throughout our patent information services. Just as new technologies develop, and more data arrives, opportunities for enhancing our services continue to present themselves. Already, 2018 is being targeted for a major update to Espacenet. A revised interface will open up the valuable world of patent information to more users than ever before. So for all those who are looking forward to a revamped, state-of-the-art patent search tool that builds upon the success of Espacenet, I can only say; watch this space.

Benoît Battistelli



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